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The Inaugural Finimize Book Club 📚

At the beginning of this year, after a brainstorm sesh over lunch, we asked ourselves: what else could we be doing to engage the Finimize community? As we continue to get to know our users better, we wanted to come up with ways to bring people of similar interests together. It was a broad question that led us to a great answer!

Here’s what we already knew: the Finimize community is made up of smart, ambitious and driven people. Whenever we’ve met you at events, we’ve been consistently amazed by the diverse and interesting conversations we’ve had. So, we thought, let’s tap into this and start a Finimize Book Club.

Due to the overwhelming amount of interest (thrilling!), we actually ended up creating two book clubs — the Social Science Book Club & the Finance/Business Book Club. Michael, an avid reader, is leading the Finance/Business Book Club, while I’m leading the Social Science Book Club. 🤓

The One About Social Science: “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari

For the inaugural book club meeting, my group voted on Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. We met at Ozone Coffee Roasters in east London. Although the book was long, and at times incredibly dense, it was written in such remarkable language that it felt like more of a story than an in-depth historical analysis.

In a nutshell (although you can get a better gist of Harari’s argument from his TED Talk): 2.5 million years ago, several human species roamed the earth. However, Homo sapiens — aka us — survived and thrived, while others died off. Why? Because discoveries like fire (which led to shorter intestines → larger brains), coupled with DNA mutation, gave us the upper hand, allowing us to become smarter, more social, imaginative creatures.

So here we are, at the top of the food chain, having undergone Agricultural, Scientific and Industrial Revolutions, with constant innovation ahead of us. What does the future look like?

Some of the Finimizers in my group liked the book, while others found Harari’s scientific claims overreaching and unjustified. Kristina lamented that the future of mankind was described as heading towards a world of fewer species and ecological degradation, even while the amount of natural resources we can tap into is supposedly increasing. Kristina, a biologist, brought up that this isn’t feasible, and argued that humans won’t be able to survive without other species. That’s just not scientifically possible!

The conversation turned to whether or not imperialism was justified, as Harari mentioned that European imperialists genuinely believed that they were “helping” less technologically advanced societies while also increasing their knowledge of the natural world. Some agreed; others said “no way!”. We also discussed the creation of religion and gods, and whether or not Harari’s vision of a fully unified future is valid and/or feasible.

We ended the discussion by asking about happiness, and what everyone’s thoughts were on what it meant to be happy. The answers included wanting to give back, finding meaning and a purpose in life, having a genuine connection with people, and being considered useful by others. Overall, great night! And yes, two bottles of wine were had. 🍷

The One About Finance/Business: “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen

Michael’s group voted on The Innovator’s Dilemma, a book that influenced Steve Jobs. This book is famously known for outlining exactly how innovation happens, and why it’s common for market leaders to miss the next wave of innovation within their industries.

The main takeaways:

  1. There are two kinds of technologies: disruptive and sustaining, and innovation works differently for each.
  2. If a company’s resources, processes and values don’t match the market, no management can save it.
  3. Market leaders can solve the innovator’s dilemma by acquiring or founding subsidiaries.

The crew met at The Bike Shed in east London and Michael enjoyed getting to know the group members. Sam, a business analyst working in the television industry, talked about how Netflix moved from being a bricks-and-mortar Blockbuster house to a video streaming giant, when discussing companies that have successfully grown by moving upmarket into more complex products.

Overall, Michael described the evening as joyful, with lots of laughter and fun. It was interesting to have people with such varied backgrounds reflecting on the same book. What made it even better was that everyone had real-life experiences related to the book. Despite having prepared a long list of questions and discussion points, Michael only ended up using two. It’s great when the conversation flows so easily!

Both of us are extremely excited to run our respective book clubs every month going forward. It not only encourages us to read more, but allows us to engage with people from various backgrounds and learn about their stories!

Stay tuned for Part 2… 📚

~Anna, Community at Finimize

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